The Mississippi Church Protection Act will allow armed security in churches should it become law. The legislation passed by the Mississippi Senate attempts to override federal regulations and executive orders designed to limit gun rights.

Senator uses a sword to make a point about guns

Prior to the approval, the heated debate included Senator Hillman Frazier of Jackson waving a sword and quoting Bible Scripture as he argued against the bill. Supporters of the church law also quoted scripture as they fought an amendment to the bill that requires churches to post signs alerting parishioners of the armed security.

In support of the bill’s passage, Senator Sean Tindell said the church law would authorize churches to have a “sergeant-at-arms” capable of protecting the church members just like the legislature already has. He added that this measure is in direct response to the shootings in Charleston, South Carolina last year.

In a 36 to 14 vote, the Senate authorized an amended version of House Bill 786. The initiative will now go back to the House for more consideration.

Under the amendment, churches can implement security measures by training and designating certain church members to carry concealed weapons. Those acting as security will be provided with both criminal and legal protections.

New bill also expands current concealed-carry law

The new bill eliminates the need for a gun permit in Mississippi as long as the weapon is concealed and in a holster. Current Mississippi law allows concealed carry without a permit if the weapon is in a purse, satchel, or brief case. The state also allows open carry in public.

The Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police believes the looser regulation of concealed-carry puts additional risk on law enforcement officers. Executive Director Ken Winter said it’s just not a good idea for untrained citizens carrying around concealed weapons.The National Rifle Association disagrees. Chris Cox of the NRA said the new legislation simplifies current Mississippi law and gives residents the right to carry a weapon however they like.

The most controversial language of the new bill forbids Mississippi authorities from carrying out any federal agency regulations or executive orders that encroaches upon the state constitution. This provision violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, according to some Senators.

When asked about whether Mississippi could oppose federal agency regulations and executive orders, Tindell responded in the affirmative. His response brought cheers and applause from several other lawmakers in the chamber.

Nonetheless, federal courts have ruled previously that agency rules supersede state laws.

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